We were delighted when the Federal Government announced that they had allocated $10 million in funding to transition younger people living in aged care to age-appropriate accommodation in this year’s federal budget.
Disability advocates have long argued for younger people to not be placed in aged care, as their quality of life and mortality decreases.
Getting young people with disability out of the aged care system was a key recommendation of the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Federal Government had set targets of having no people under 65 entering residential aged care, and no people under 45 in residential care by 2022. It also aims to have no one under 65 in the residential care by 2025.
The Australian Government considers anyone under 65 to be a “younger person”. Approximately 6500 younger Australians with a disability live in residential aged care facilities and 188 were under 45 years of age.
Residential aged care was never designed for younger people living with complex needs. It was designed to support the needs of older people.
Imagine being in your 40s living in an aged care home, surrounded by people in their 80s or 90s. Without enough aged care staff, you are left in your bed or wheelchair most of the day. You don’t get enough social or intellectual interaction. Your quality of life, mental health and mobility starts to decrease, and you end up with poorer long-term health outcomes and decreased mortality.
Unfortunately, this is the reality for many younger Australians living in aged care. And tragically, six younger Australians continue to enter residential aged care every day.
One of the goals of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was to get younger people out of aged care, and into their own homes or living with family. However, progress in this space has been slow.
The reasons for this are varied, but one of the key factors is the lack of suitable housing. In Australia, there is a significant gap in the market for highly Specialised Disability Accommodation (SDA) – and as a consequence 12,300 Australians living with a disability don’t have access to the accommodation they need.
However, this is not something that the Australian Government or the NDIS can solve on its own. Achieving the Australian Government’s Young People in Aged Care Action Plan will require collaboration and engagement from people living with a disability, all levels of government, providers and investors in (SDA) market.
Find out more about our Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)